Skip navigation

You are in:  Home » Graduate study » MPhil study

M.Phil. dissertation abstracts 1999-2000

Copies of these dissertations are held in the University of Cambridge, Department of Geography Library.

Emma Adams

Dissertation "A Palaeoecological study of Church Stretton, Shropshire", supervised by Dr. Charles Turner (Open University).

Rob Austin-Smith

Dissertation "The palaeoecological reconstruction of Cavenham Mere", supervised by Dr. A. Chepstow-Lusty (Cambridge).

Pete Cawston

Dissertation "Pleistocene migration patterns in the Mediterranean region", supervised by Professor T. van Andle (Cambridge) and Dr. R. Foley (Cambridge).

William Fletcher

Dissertation "Late Quaternary woodland vegetation of the Vela Draga canyon, Croatia", supervisors Professor T. Van Andel (Cambridge) and Dr Marco Madella (McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge)

Late Quaternary Woodland Vegetation of the Vela Draga Canyon, Croatia

Recent archaeological excavations in the Istrian peninsula (Croatia) provide evidence for the occupation of karstic caves during the late-Glacial and Holocene. Within the highly erosional karstic landscape, caves are important depositional locations, containing records of both human activity and palaeoenvironmental conditions. Macroscopic charcoal was identified from four caves located in or near a single gorge in northeastern Istria. The identification of woody taxa within the charcoal assemblages provides evidence of vegetation changes in the local landscape and a record of wood use at the sites. Three vegetation phases were identified. Montane-type forest of Pinus sylvestris/P. nigra appears to have been dominant throughout the late-Glacial and early Holocene, although sporadic presences of thermophilous taxa are noted from at least 13,000 Cal BP. During the mid-Holocene, pine was replaced by several deciduous taxa, including oak, ash and maple. From the mid- to late- Holocene, a number of taxa are recorded for the first time, including evergreen and schlerophyllous taxa, small trees and shrubs. This sequence was interpreted primarily in terms of climate change since the late-Glacial and micro-climatic effects of the karst topography, with consideration given to the possible influence of post-Glacial tree migration and human activity.

Philip Hughes

Dissertation "The last glaciers in the Aran and Arenig Mountains, North Wales", supervised by Dr. P. Gibbard (Cambridge).

The last glaciers in the Aran and Arenig Mountains, North Wales

Geomorphological evidence for four former local glaciers has been mapped in the Aran and Arenig Mountains, North Wales. Pollen stratigraphic analysis of infilled lake sediments has enabled an age of the former glaciers to be deduced. Outside of the former glacier limits at Ffridd-y-Fawnog (grid ref. SH 866457) a full suite of Lateglacial and Flandrian deposits exist whilst inside of the former glacier limits at Cwm Gylchedd (grid ref. SH 866457) only Flandrian deposits exist. This implies a Loch Lomond Stadial age of the glacier at Cwm Gylchedd and, by analogy, at the three other glaciers mapped in this study. This finding is also supported by periglacial contrasts between the insides and outsides of the glacier limits. Reconstruction of the four glaciers illustrates a mean ELA of c.504 metres. Variation in ELA between the four glaciers can be primarily attributed to precipitation differences and not variations in local controlling factors. From the reconstructed ELAs and the combination of precipitation and snowblow input in deriving total accumulation, by analogy with Norwegian glaciers, a mean sea-level July temperature was calculated at 8.4 C ± 0.4 C. Also, if the Loch Lomond Stadial is assumed to represent the early stages of ice-sheet build up, then the Arenig Mountains are likely to have been an important centre for earlier Devensian ice-sheet build up.

Vasiliki Margari

Dissertation "Vegetation history of Mytilini Island, Greece", supervised by Dr. Chronis Tzedakis (Cambridge).

See also: photographs from the recent coring trip.

Vegetation history of Mytilini Island, Greece

A 10m sediment core was recovered from Megali Limni (200m a.s.l.) on Lesvos Island, Northeast Aegean Sea, Greece. The Y5 tephra was identified at 5.58m depth in the sediment sequence and provided an age estimate of 36 000 yrs BP. Additional chronological control was provided by three radiocarbon dates, which confirmed the Middle Pleniglacial age of the sequence. The aim was to obtain a record of vegetational and environmental changes, the first available from any island of the Mediterranean for this period. The pollen record shows a series of high frequency vegetation changes. Steppe vegetation is interspersed with periods of forest-steppe and, more rarely, steppe-forest vegetation. Tree populations never expanded enough to form a continuous forest cover. A general trend towards decreased arboreal populations during the second part of the Middle Pleniglacial is observed. Comparisons with other records are made, and the possibility that the observed fluctuations are a response to the millennial scale climatic variability of the North Atlantic is suggested.

Luke Skinner

Dissertation "Sea-surface temperature and deep circulation variations on the Iberian Margin since the last Glacial Maximum" supervised by Prof. N. Shackleton (Cambridge) and Dr. N. McCave (Cambridge).